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Movie delivers stark reminder

Ben Collins  February 9, 2013 9:54 AM

Blinder Trailer Blinder Trailer
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North Melbourne great Glenn Archer is an executive producer of Blinder

A NEW footy movie delivers another timely warning to AFL players about the risks of dabbling with illicit substances and placing themselves in vulnerable positions.

The main character in Blinder, an 18-year-old AFL hopeful named Tom Dunn (played by Oliver Ackland), becomes embroiled in a sex-and-drugs scandal that shatters the lives of several young people.

Dunn, an innocent party to the controversy, pays an enormous price for his perceived indiscretion: his reputation and his AFL dreams are crushed.

Although it's a fictional scenario played out at the grassroots level of the game, the scandal delivers a shirtfront to the senses because it could so easily happen. It's actually a cautionary tale for everyone, but particularly for people in the public eye like AFL players.

Much of the $5 million film focuses on the scandal and it's aftermath – and it will no doubt set tongues wagging and attract attention – but there are plenty of other features of Blinder that will appeal to footy fans.

Directed by Richard Gray (whose previous credits include Summer Coda), Blinder also stars Australian acting legend Jack Thompson as the coach and Anna Hutchison (of Underbelly and Wild Boys fame) as a love interest.

It's the first major footy-themed film since 1980 movie The Club – in which Thompson also played the coach.

Adding an authentic touch to the movie, premiership trio Glenn Archer, Sam Kekovich and Adrian Gleeson were executive producers.

AFL.com.au attended the first media screening of Blinder in Sydney on Thursday.

Filmed last year in Torquay and Boston, Blinder centres on the Torquay Tigers and captures many of the features of grassroots football: the communal yet tribal atmosphere, ovals ringed by cars whose tooting horns salute goals, and of course the local footy club as the social hub of a town.

Then there's the in-your-face footy action, complete with plenty of heavy hits, big marks, macho sledging and even a sensational smother.

Kekovich lends his eloquence and vocal skills as a commentator, but the best oratory comes from Thompson. The 72-year-old produces a memorable coaching address which, he later told AFL.com.au in an interview to be published soon, is the equal of any monologue he has ever delivered.

There are several notable, non-speaking cameos – among them, Gleeson as an AFL recruiting scout; the AFL's female goal umpire Chelsea Roffey is the subject of some admiration from colourful full-forward Franky (played by funny man Angus Sampson); and former Collingwood player Brayden Shaw (Tony's son) is involved in a passage of play.

A surprise is Bob Morley, the Neighbours and Home And Away heart-throb, whose football skills stand out among a few of his peers' awkward kicking styles.

Richmond fans will also enjoy seeing their guernseys in action and hearing their theme song belted out several times. On that score alone, the Tiger faithful could guarantee that Blinder kicks some goals at the box office.

Blinder will premiere at Crown Casino on Tuesday February 19 and hit the cinemas on Thursday March 7.